New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked Karnataka to "be ready to release Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu or face consequences". The apex court also rebuked the Centre for asking for more time on grounds that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ministers were busy with the elections in Karnataka. The state will go to polls on May 12.
Karnataka has been asked to release four tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water to Tamil Nadu. The top court also warned Karnataka of consequences if it did not release Cauvery water to meet the needs of Tamil Nadu for April and May.
Asked for 10 more days, the central government told the court, "the PM and ministers are busy in Karnataka polls and can't approve the scheme for releasing water to Tamil Nadu, as directed."
The court has directed the Centre to inform it what steps were taken to frame the scheme for monitoring the release of water to Tamil Nadu.
"You are supposed to frame the scheme," Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra told the lawyer representing the Centre.
Attorney General KK Venugopal then replied that the draft for the scheme had been placed before the cabinet, "PM and ministers are in Karnataka."
He also said the Karnataka Chief Minister, Siddaramaiah, wanted ministers to be involved in the scheme instead of experts. "We are not bothered about the polls. The scheme should have been framed by now. States have no role in this," said CJI Dipak Misra.
Tamil Nadu accused the Centre of "politicising the issue" and worrying more about the elections in Karnataka. "Centre doesn't want to frame the scheme now. This is the end of cooperative federal politics. What do we tell the people of Tamil Nadu?" said the state.
Earlier in the month, the Centre was chastised by the apex court for ignoring its orders on setting up a body that would monitor the release of Cauvery river waters to Tamil Nadu by Karnataka.
The judges suggested that the Centre was acting in guile. "The Centre knows what the scheme means," the judges said, asking the government to inform by May 3 how it planned to implement the water sharing formula the court had laid down in February.